HOUSTON – Next up: Bartolo Colon.
The Twins announced on Saturday that Colon will make his Twins debut Tuesday when they play host to Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees.
It comes as the Twins have exhausted their pitching inventory in recent weeks while attempting to combat injuries and ineffectiveness. The Twins have tried out Adam Wilk, Chris Heston, Nick Turley, Nick Tepesch and Felix Jorge as starters, hoping to get lucky with one of them. None of them have worked out.
Their search head led them to the 44-year-old Colon, who broke into the majors in 1997 as teammates with Orel Hershiser and Julio Franco in Cleveland.
Colon was designated for assignment by Atlanta after going 2-8 with an 8.14 ERA in 13 starts this season. The Braves are on the hook for Colon’s $12.5 million contract for 2017. The Twins owe him the league minimum for as long as he’s with them.
And that is the mystery. Does Colon have anything left?
He made one start for Class AAA Rochester, giving up four runs over 3⅔ innings Thursday in a loss at Lehigh Valley. Despite accounts that he wasn’t sharp, the Twins are bringing him up ahead of the 23-year-old Jorge, who has a 10.57 ERA in two major league starts after getting called up from Class AA Chattanooga, and veteran Dillion Gee, who started for Rochester on Saturday night.
“Some of it had to do with some of the conversations that were made in bringing him over here and the potential timing of getting him into the rotation,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said.
Molitor said Colon will arrive in the Twin Cities on Sunday. Once Colon steps on the mound, the Twins will be the 10th major league team he has pitched for. And the Twins will use their 28th pitcher this season, one less than last year’s club record.He also will be the 11th starter used by the Twins this season.
Buxton, not Vargas, put on disabled list
The Twins were going to place someone on the disabled list Saturday. It ended up being center fielder Byron Buxton, who has a sore left groin muscle.
Buxton was in the process of scoring from first base in the fourth inning Friday when he took a misstep around second and was initially injured. He then felt it as he slid into second with a double in the sixth. He was removed from the game at that point.
Kennys Vargas left in the seventh because of a left foot contusion. He has twice fouled balls off the foot since spring training, and it began to bother him during Friday’s game. X-rays were negative, and Vargas said he was able to play through it.
Things were different, however, with Buxton. “It’s a hard one in that we’re not sure if he will be healthy in four, five, six days,” Molitor said. “The timing is right. And his legs are such a huge part of his game in that you don’t want him to be battling that at less than 100 percent going into the last few months of the season. So we are going to take the 10 days and try to get it right.”
Zack Granite, called up on July 7, will replace Buxton in center. Both Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler can play there was well. Granite, hitting .360 in 59 games at Rochester this season, got his first major league hit Friday, a bloop double to center.
“I like what I see,” Molitor said of Granite. “It’s a little bit up to him to see how far he can take his ability.”
Buxton’s move to the DL enabled the Twins to activate first baseman Joe Mauer from the disabled list. Mauer, out since July 4 because of a sore lower back, was going to be held out of the lineup one more day before Buxton went down Friday.
Vargas ran sprints in the outfield before Saturday’s game.